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the offspring of one who hath ruined his constitution by intemperance, partakes of the parent's enfeebled habit of body,--and as unavoidably as an unborn child shares the fate of its desperate mother when she hath poisoned herself.
2. As we are all semivally contained in the loins of Adam, it would have been as impossible to save us from the defilement of sin, as to preserve part of your blood free from all infection if you were dying or dead of a fever.
3. If Adam had stood, and the happy consequences of his obedience had reached down to you, you would not have thought it unjust to enjoy them ; yet, as he fell, it is reasonable that you should submit to the sad alternative.
4. Did God appoint, for our representative and head, the first Adam, who ruined us without our fault? He hath also graciously appointed the second Adam, Jesus Christ, who redeemed us without any merit on our part: It ill becomes, therefore, those who talk of salvation by the cross of the Son of God to speak against the doctrine of our natural depravity through the fall of Adam : For, if the one be rational, the other can never be absurd.
5. If any perish now, it is by their own choice, for 'there is help laid on one mighty to save.' (Ps. lxxxix. 19.) “The soul that sinneth,' (unto death,) by rejecting, to the end, the life offered in Jesus, 'it shall die' eternally, and only that soul : For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it, “The son shall not [tinally) bear the iniquity of the father.' (Ezek. xviii. 20.)
6. Do sin and misery abound without our choice by the fall of Adarn, grace and glory abound much more by the free, unsought redemption that is in Jesus Christ; (Rom. v. 20;) and “it must be owing to our own perverseness, and our own negligence," says the ingenious Mr. Hervey, “if we do not levy a tax upon our loss, and rise even by onr fall.
Par.-Did not God foresee Adam's sin, and its fatal consequences ? And if he foresaw them, why did he not, as the Wise Governor of the world, prevent them all together?
Min.-It is not right for creatures who cannot account for the most common things in the natural world, such as the colour of the grass, or that of flowers, to call their Creator to the bar for his transactions in the moral world. That God permitted sin to enter into the world, we know by sad experience ; and that he does all things in wisdom, we are no less certain ; therefore we are sure, that wisdom subscribed the awful permission, and till he unfold to us the inysteries of his providence, a modest enquirer will, I apprehend, be satisfied with the followiug reflections :
1. God made man in his natural image, part of which consists in liberty of choice; and if God's making a free agent is not against his Wisdom, the wrong choice or sia of a free agent is no impeachment of that divine attribute. 2. God, it is true, might have made man,
as the good angels are now; but then they would not have been men, but angels : And he was no more bound to do it, than to make all his creatures of a size, or all borses men. On the contrary, a variety in the works of creation becomes the manifold wisdom of God.'
3. He did all that a wise and good ruler of rational creatures could do to prevent sin.-(1.) He gave to Adam a strong propensity to obedience.—(2.) He forbad siu.—(3.) He enforced the prohibition by the fearful threatening of present death.-(4.) He promised to crown his continuance in duty with eternal life. (Rom. x. 5.) To have gone farther, would have been as inconsistent with the nature of a moral agent, and that of the divine Law, as the confining or chaining down every one who may turu thief, is contrary to the liberty of Englishmen, and the laws of the realm. Perhaps also,
4. God permitted, not ordered sin, because he both would and could over-rule it, to the glorious display of several of his attributes, which must otherwise have remained unknown to, and unglorified by his creatures : Such as his boundless Mercy, his wonderful Patience, his inflexible Justice, and admirable wisdom in bringing good out of evil.
5. As those who never knew what sickness and want are, do not half value the blessings of health and plenty, it is not unlikely that God saw it expedient, to suffer, not procure, the apostasy and misery of this world, or, (to use a scriptural expression,) to permit the loss of his hundredth sheep, that the ninety-nine who never were lost, might be more sensible of, and thankful for preserving grace. And lest there should be any reason to impeach his goodness, he sent his only-begotten Son to take the curse of the law upon him, to destroy the works of the devil, and, as “a good Shepherd to bring back the lost sheep,'--the world that had strayed from the path of pious obedience. (Luke xv.)
6. Lastly. The contrast between sin and holiness, between earthly misery and heavenly bliss, will heighten to all eternity the beauty of holiness, and the joys of the blessed : So that the wickeduess and wretchedness of this earth, which is but a point with regard to the universe, when they shall have been over-ruled by divine Wisdom, Mercy, Justice, and Power, will answer the end of shades properly thrown into a piece of painting, or that of night teinpering the day of Paradise.—They will make the light of God's perfections appear unspeakably brighter, and the day of heaven shine infinitely more glorious.
Par.-In answering my objection you start another, which you will not easily solve. Jf sin will answer the end of shades in a picture, it will have its use, and I do not see why we should be punished at all for what will set off the divine perfections, and in the end redound to the glory of God.
Min.-It is sin properly pardoned, or justly punished, not sin committed with impunity, which will answer this end. Rebellion is always abominable in itself ; bevertheless, a wise king over-rules it to good purposes,
a pardon grauted to penitent rebels attaches them for ever to their merciful prince, and endears him to all his faithful subjects; and at the same time, the public execution of the stubborn reflects praise on the steadiness of his government, and makes all stand in awe of his justice.
Par.-I do not deny, that sin deserves some punishment; but I cannot see how it is consistent with justice to say, as you do, that God will punish the sins of a short life, with the torments of a boundless eternity. Reason discovers no sort of proportion between the offence and the punishment; and I do not wonder if some of our neighbours believe, on that account, that hell is an engine contrived by crafty priests and rulers to keep the superstitions and vulgar in awe.
Min.- I answer, 1. That though short-sighted rea. son sees no uniting power between the load-stone and iron, it is matter of fact that the mineral attracts the metal, therefore, there are realities above the reach of reason in the material world : How much more in the spiritual !
2. You are tempted to disbelieve the existence of a state or place of misery, called Hell, because you advert not to the strong intimations of it which provi. dence gives you daily. Millions of beasts, which never sinned, go through a hell of toil, pain, and misery, because the curse of sinful mau rebounds to them here! You see this continually, and yet you question whether there will be a hell for impenitent sinners hereafter. Is this reasonable ?
3. God is all holiness and happiness in himself; and unconverted sinners, being the reverse of holiness, must of course be the reverse of happiness also : Therefore, so long as they remain unholy, they must remain miserable : And what is hell but complete misery?
4. Every uubeliever hath already the ingredients of this misery in his own breast. What are the chains of sin, the tumults of unruly appetites, the gnawings of fretful tempers, the uproars of turbulent passious, the disappointment of sanguine hopes, the gripings of covetousness, the burnings of lust, the stings of an evil conscience, together with a guilty shame for what is past, and foreboding fears of what is to come? What are all these plagues which the unconverted feel from time to time, but sensible proofs,--proofs which they carry in their own breast, that there is a hell for the ungodly.
5. The dread of various torments after death, hath been in all ages the strongest bulwark against the overflowings of secret ungodliness. The world cannot be ruled without his fear; and were it imaginary, it would follow, that God, (shocking to think :) keeps mortals in awe by a lie ; and that Christ, who is the Truth itself, spoke falsehood when he said, “ These shall go into everlasting punishment.' (Matt. xxv. 46.)
Par.-You prove the reality of a state of misery for the wicked, but prudently avoid answering what I said of the disproportion there is between momentary sins and eternal torments.
Min.—That part of your objection will fall also, if you let the following arguments have their proper weight on your mind.
1. God who rewards the godly with endless glory, may justly punish the wicked with endless ruin. Death must be in the balance with life, eternal misery with eternal happiness, or else there is no proportion between the punishment threatened, and the reward promised.
2. A rebel who hath stabbed an carthly prince but once, and deeply repents of his crime, is mercifully dealt with, if he be imprisoned for life, were he to live a thousand years.
An impenitent sinner hath risen against the majesty of Heaven a million of times, and crucified the Prince of Life afresh,' for it may be ten, twenty, forty years :-What is more, he goes on still in his rebellion; and his talk of repenting tomorrow, is only a contrivance to sin with more cheerfulness to-day. Now if he die in this state, shall God